Research has shown that a syphilis infection increases the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Researchers, led by Cera Cantu, examined patterns in the incidence of HIV infections among a population of Texan men following a Primary and Secondary (P&S) syphilis diagnosis. According to their report, published in AIDS and Behavior, their analysis uncovered disparities in HIV diagnoses “despite current prevention recommendations.”

The investigators collated P&S syphilis cases in men reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services and linked the data to the Enhanced HIV/AIDS Reporting System. A total of 9,113 men with syphilis and no concurrent or prior HIV diagnosis were included, encompassing 35,674 person-years of data with a mean follow-up of 3.9 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to identify risk factors for a new HIV diagnosis.

The researchers’ multivariable Cox model revealed that age, race/ethnicity, transmission risk, comorbid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), subsequent STDs, and syphilis diagnosing facility were all independently associated with a new HIV diagnosis among men with a P&S syphilis diagnosis.

The risk factors for new HIV diagnosis in men in Texas with P&S syphilis infection led the study’s authors to describe a disparity in diagnoses of HIV, which indicated that current guidelines may be underdeveloped. In their opinion, “reducing these disparities will require multi-level, comprehensive interventions that are appropriate for the diverse populations around the state.”

Source: AIDS and Behavior